Luis Jerez (McIntire ’22) is just about to start his studies in the Commerce School—but he’s already made an impact.
This summer, the third-year student was jolted into action after witnessing the tragic passing of George Floyd. As many of his peers followed up with opportunities to sign petitions or make donations to causes focused on social justice, he felt compelled to contribute in his own way.
Out on a run, Jerez reflected on his options. Necessitated by social distancing measures, he had taken on the hobby of running outdoors, saying it provided him with a therapeutic outlet for sorting through his thoughts.
“I found myself going on a morning run, and the thought of a run-a-thon struck me,” he recalls, explaining that he then decided to reach out to the officers of McIntire’s Latinx Student Network, hoping that they might be interested in assisting him with devising the fundraiser.
To Jerez’s elation, the group quickly moved on the idea and established the “Racing Toward the End” fundraiser. The late July weekend event was built around the concept of raising money by documenting the community’s physical activity, matching running miles with dollars.
The result was a display of support and engagement that accounted for 420 miles traveled by 40 participants, along with increased visibility across the affinity group’s social media channels. Ultimately, McIntire’s student donation total reached $840, the bulk of which was donated to Advancement Project, a civil rights organization focused on achieving policy change.
Objectives Met and Exceeded
LSN President Alex Naupari (McIntire ’21) says that the event accomplished its goals and then some, as it enabled the student organization to reserve some funds to donate to a planned fundraiser by its peer group, Black Commerce Student Network.
“The main goal of hosting ‘Racing Toward the End’ was to get people in the McIntire community involved in the social justice movement,” Naupari says. “McIntire is home to future business leaders of corporate America. If we want a better future, we have to inform ourselves and contribute what we can toward the cause. The fundraiser was our way of providing means for everyone to assist in ending systematic racism regardless of financial means. We are proving that McIntire really can be a catalyst for change.”
Vice President Karen Sanchez Godinez (McIntire ’22), whom Naupari credits with creating marketing material, engaging participants, and helping raise substantial funds, was encouraged by the efforts of students and faculty involved.
“As a minority-focused club, we knew how important it was to use our platform to bring awareness and show our support to the BLM movement. The results of this event definitely surpassed the goals I had set,” she says, adding that she’s “extremely proud” of the group for putting the timely event together.
An Enhanced McIntire Experience
The act of organizing “Race Toward the End” provided a firsthand look at the daily challenges nonprofits face, says Naupari, noting how difficult it is to raise funds while coordinating with different people across an organization. But the undertaking offered an avenue for enhancing the Commerce School experience.
“The fundraiser allowed us to identify best practices for working with various resources and provided us, student leaders, the opportunity to build relationships with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Student Services; and Net Impact. These relationships will help us later in the year to create joint events to enhance the student experience over the next year.”
Sanchez Godinez says that she enjoyed the work because it allowed members to invest their time in an important cause that extended beyond academic and career concerns. “It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to join the LSN exec team. I believe that during my time at McIntire I should be making an impact not only on students but on the greater community.”
Jerez recalled the philanthropic efforts of his mother, noting that his dedication to service was a goal of his upon arriving on Grounds. He says that the result of their fundraiser this summer reflects positively on the drive of many. “Seeing students, faculty, and alumni all come together as one to change the lives of others was incredible. It brings me great joy to be a part of a community whose mission is to create a more diverse and inclusive community.”
For the 2020-2021 academic year, Naupari says that the group will focus on hosting influential and inspiring minority business leaders to speak with students.
“It’s important for LSN to expose our members to minority business leaders they can look up to. We plan on holding two panels, one dedicated to women leaders in business and another on minority leaders in business.”
Additionally, they have plans to partner more often with their fellow student orgs, including Net Impact, BCSN, PRIDE at McIntire, and the Women Business Forum at McIntire.
In the meantime, Naupari says that his new LSN members have strengthened the organization, and their initiative and tenacity will be a prized resource as they prepare for the fall semester.
“As rising third-years, Karen and Luis have already helped to engage the McIntire community despite not even having started their ICE classes yet. I’m fortunate to have had them on my team. It’s because of them that this event was a success.”